Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Couscous-Stuffed Chicken

My favorite part of the day is figuring out what's for dinner! This one was an awesome success.  They key to any dish like this, in my opinion, is a really high quality olive oil.  Another recipe where I can't credit the source and I apologize!

1/3  cup  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/4  cup  uncooked couscous
1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
1/2  teaspoon  black pepper, divided
3  tablespoons  chopped plum tomato
2  tablespoons  kalamata olives, chopped
2  tablespoons  crumbled feta cheese
2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
2  teaspoons  chopped fresh oregano
2  teaspoons  chopped fresh parsley
1  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
1  minced garlic clove
4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray

Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat.  Stir in couscous.  Cover and let stand 4 minutes.  Place couscous in a small bowl; fluff with fork.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Add 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and next 8 ingredients (through garlic); toss.

Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Divide couscous mixture evenly among breast halves; roll up jelly-roll fashion. Secure with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook for 6 minutes or until browned; turn chicken over. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until chicken is done.

Final verdict-this was GOOD.  Really, really good.  And I skipped the olives.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Things You Should Have on Hand

Let's face it-there's nothing worse than when you have to make MULTIPLE trips to the grocery store each week.  I love to cook, but this would be my least favorite part of the whole process.  To make things easier on myself (and my wallet), I buy staples in bulk when they're on sale.  This is the bare minimum of what I (should) have in my fridge/freezer/pantry:

skim milk (at least one cup, always)
a pint of heavy cream
container of plain, fat free yogurt
light sour cream
several different block cheeses-at least mozzarella, monteray jack, and cheddar (don't waste the money on shredded cheese-burn extra cals by grating your own)
grated parmesean cheese
block cream cheese
Laughing Cow cheese wedges
low-fat mayo
soy sauce
a few stalks of celery
a few loose carrots
3-5 onions
several shallots
red bell peppers
green bell peppers
jalepeno peppers
garlic bulbs (or bottled minced garlic)
diced tomatoes (at least 4 cans)
chicken broth (at least 10 cups worth)
a few cans each beef & vegetable broth
a few cans each cream of chicken & cream of celery soup
water crackers
whole wheat pasta
several variaties of rice-we currently have basmati, jasmine, and brown minute rice
rice noodles
corn tortillas
several cans pumpkin puree
several cans applesauce
several cans pineapple chunks
several jars medium salsa
several jars plain marinara sauce
hot sauce
brown sugar
white sugar
white flour
white whole wheat flour
baking soda
baking powder
confectioner's sugar
unsweetened cocoa powder
olive oil
vegetable oil
sesame oil
fish sauce
balsamic vinegar
rice vinegar
red wine vinegar
cider vinegar
marsala wine
cooking sherry

In your freezer...
assorted veggies (tip: if your fresh veggies are about to go bad and you need to use them up-just saute them until slightly softened, throw in a zip loc baggie, and freeze!)
ground beef
ground turkey
b/l, s/l chicken breast
split chicken breast (bone in)
pork tenderloin
fish fillets (tuna & flounder are my favorites)
french fries (for the kids!)
boneless buffalo chicken bites (for the lazy days when you just want a buffalo chicken salad)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On a budget? Try chicken thighs!

Chicken thighs are relatively cheap in your grocery store compared to a lot of other meat.  I buy them at Big Y when they're 'Buy 1, get 2 free' and have a long list of standing recipes that our family loves.  Here's our favorite:

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

-2 TSP garlic powder
-2 TSP chili powder
-1 TSP salt
-1 TSP ground cumin
-1 TSP paprika
-1/2 TSP ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (If you do get skin-on, it's very easy to remove.  And the bones are fine too)
Cooking spray
6 TBSP honey
2 TSP cider vinegar

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat.  Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.  Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well.  Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken.  Broil one minutes.  Remove chicken from oven and turn over.  Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture.  Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

Homemade French Onion Dip

This is a recipe from my friend Zoe-and it is AMAZING.  Next time you need to bring an appetizer to a party, make this yours!  These notes are hers-'This says slice onions but I dice/chop them before cooking to safe a step.  I also substitute 1 cup plain yogurt for half of the sour cream, and use a mix of red and vidalia onions'.  I've followed her modifications every time I make it.

2-3 TBSP unsalted butter
2 Vidalia onions, sliced into rings
2 large shallots, sliced into rings
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 TSP celery salt
1 TSP Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add butter.  When butter is melted, add onions and saute stirring occasionally until golden brown and caramelized, about 35 minutes.  Add shallots and saute for 15 minutes more until onions and shallots are dark brown.  Add garlic and saute for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool for 5 to 6 minutes, then chop into 1/4 inch pieces.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, celery salt, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.  Fold in onion mixture.  Chill at least 1 hour of overnight (preferably), prior to serving.  Garnish with fresh chopped chives if desired.

Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa

This is another Cooking Light recipe.  I prepared the salsa yesterday, and poached three chicken breasts in chicken broth and shredded them.  It should be much easier to put together for dinner tonight, as those are the most time consuming steps.  My only notes thus far is that I may have added a bit too much cilantro to the salsa (and may cut it with half a can of diced tomatos), and that I'm not sure I will use the feta cheese. This casserole will make 8 servings at 9 PP per serving.


  • Salsa:
  • 8  plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 3  garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1  small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1  seeded jalapeño pepper, quartered
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
  • Casserole:
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 1  cup  fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1  cup  diced zucchini
  • 1  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 3  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1  tablespoon  minced garlic
  • 2  teaspoons  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  (10-ounce) can green chile enchilada sauce
  • 1  (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 12  (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese


1. Preheat broiler.
2. To prepare salsa, combine first 4 ingredients on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 20 minutes or until charred, stirring once. Remove from oven; cool slightly. Place tomato mixture in a food processor; add cilantro, lime juice, and pepper. Process until smooth. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350°.
4. To prepare casserole, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 cup onion, corn, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Add chicken and next 5 ingredients (through green chiles); sauté 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat.
5. Spread 1/2 cup salsa over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of tortillas over salsa. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture evenly over tortillas. Top with 3/4 cup salsa. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of each cheese. Repeat layers, starting with remaining tortillas and ending with remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes until bubbly.

Final Verdict: LOVE this!!  Super filling.

Crab Cakes

This recipe is from the January 2011 edition of Cooking Light.  These are fantastic!  Sorry my pictures do not do the final product any justice.

3 slices white bread (this is a good way to use those end pieces that nobody likes)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 TBSP reduced fat mayonnaise
1 & 1/2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 & 1/2 TSP dijon mustard (I only had plain yellow and it worked out fine)
1 & 1/2 TSP Worcestershire sauce
1/2 TSP black pepper
1/4 TSP hot sauce (I used a full tablespoon)
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed (Shhh...I used imitation crabmeat.  I used a full pound and just flaked the pieces)
1 TSP olive oil
Lemon wedges (for serving)
1.  Place the bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups.  Combine breadcrumbs and next 9 ingredients (through crabmeat) in a large bowl.  Divide mixture into 8 equal portions; shape each into a 1/2 inch thick patty.
2.  Heat oil over medicum-high heat in a large skillet.  Add patties; cook four minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Serving size equals 2 cake-5 points plus.
My tips-make sure you wait the full four minutes before flipping.  If the cakes aren't browned on the bottom, they will probably fall apart.  Also, be careful when flipping because they will try to fall apart.  Gently slide the spatula under the cake and flip as quickly as possible.